Back to School
The rush to get families back to school and all the other activities brings about the blessing of a regular schedule, but also the struggle to get back into a routine after a (hopefully) relaxing summer. Our Grace Before Meals Team feels that same pressure.  For that reason, we want to keep this week’s Blast nice and simple:  we want to pray for the blessing of the school year and also to provide highlights and links to events and news in which you can participate.
Fr. Leo with some of the University of Steubenville student youth conference workers in July 2014.
We have so much to share with you that we hope you stay in touch through our social network on Facebook,Twitter and more regular blogging on the website.  Stay tuned. We don’t want you to miss out on any of our “soul-stirring-specials” which will definitely feed you body, mind and spirit.
From the top of the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Basilica of St. Peters.
Things to keep in mind:

Napa Valley Trip November 9-14, 2014: 

Vineyards in Napa Valley , CA.


Registrations will close by the end of next week so sign up and reserve your spot for this gourmet food and wine spiritual retreat. Click here for the brochure or call Diane at 313-565-8888 x 122. 


Holy Land Food and Faith Tour February 1-12, 2015:  

The Mount of Temptation – where Jesus conquered the temptations of the devil.
Jerusalem is truly a city of peace.  Despite some of the tensions shown on the news, Christian pilgrims go to the Holy Land each day and share in the blessings of the land.  We have once again opened up our registrations for this incredible opportunity to grow in our faith, help spread the efforts of peace, and show our solidarity for the Christians living in the Holy Land.  Our tour operator can provide all the information to let you know all of the safety measures that are taken to ensure a beautiful and enjoyable tour of the Holy Land.  Click here for the brochure or call 800-842-4842.

Savoring our Faith Season 4:

The new season of EWTN’s popular show, “Savoring our Faith” will commence filming this September with a traveling show.  Fr. Leo will visit different parts of the country, share some of the spiritual blessings, bring you to Catholic owned restaurants to share their culinary perspective, and then take us all into the kitchen to learn how to make these foods that will remind you of the the blessings from your own travels.  You can watch Fr. Leo’s weekly show on EWTN by checking your local listings.  

Check out the “Seafood Diet” episode Thursday at 5:00pm and Saturday at 4:00am (EDT)

Let us pray:

God our Father, help us to be good disciples (students) in the call to live lives of loving service to You and each other.  Please Lord, give to our schools teachers blessed with patience, wisdom and a dynamic ability to communicate truth.  Provide for our students a heart that seeks wisdom, a humble disposition, joy and gratitude for the opportunity to learn. Offer the gentle reminder to families that the primary educators of all children are their parents who teach a way of life and encourage faith which begins at home.  May our saints, especially those gifted with intelligence and learning, pray for us so that we can learn the greatest lessons in life; lessons that teach us how Jesus came to this earth to teach us by His words and example.  Amen.


  • Do you have any questions that you’d like for Fr. Leo and the Grace Before Meals Team to help answer for you?


  • Would you like Fr. Leo to come to your parish, organization or (arch)Diocese? Simply reach out to my project manager Joe Hansbrough at 410-667-1400 or at

Your communication encourages our efforts. Please post your comments and questions HERE.


This Week’s Recipe







Defiance, OH 

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Posted August 20th, 2014 | Epic Food Fight, Events, Faithful Foodie


When it is Right to Retreat
Currently, I am up in Montreal for a personal priestly retreat, and it is truly a wonderful place to reflect and pray. When you consider there is so much history and even some nice eateries nearby, I think a great pilgrimage is in the making (possibly Fall 2016). It has been great to take the time for a retreat, which, thankfully, is actually something I have to do. It is essential for clergy, religious and lay people alike to take time out of their busy schedule and spend it with God. Much like you make time to eat (assuming you are so fortunate), let us make the time to pray. You can combine the two by saying Grace Before Meals….dot com. (hehe)

The Notre Dame du Cap Basilica Shrine near Montreal is an impressive place of prayer and history. It’s also a place where the founder of my community, Fr. Louise Marie Parent (Voluntas Dei) prayed and ministered.

This past weekend, I was able to minister to hundreds of Filipino youth from Canada and the USA at the

Bukas-Loob Sa Diyos (BLD) Covenant Community. It was held in Kearny NJ at the Archdiocese of Newark Retreat Center, just 10 minutes away from the impressive Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark. The event was aimed at the Filipino community to grow stronger in their Catholic Faith by showing them the Sacred and how it affects our lives. We also addressed how the Secular world should not be seen as separate from our church life, but part of God’s creation, and one in need of genuine witness. Finally, there was a strong emphasis for these people to be a strong part of the New Evangelization, as our actions can speak louder than words often times. And let me say, this group was loud and full of spirit!

Youth from the BLD Conference. They have inspiring faith at such a young age!

The faith, reverence and joy that the attendees to the event had is exactly what we are all called to have in our everyday lives. I know very well how tough it is to make time, but if there is an opportunity for a retreat or day of reflection at your local parish or within your Diocese, you should take it. We are much more likely to grow in our faith when we are focused on it, and retreats are a fantastic place to start as you can truly immerse yourself in it. When we are spiritually fed, we are more nourished and able to be a force for the good in this world. Similarly, it is then when we are most able to make a difference in the lives of those around us. In a world rife with Christian persecution and people in great need, may God grant you the virtues of courage, faith, hope and love to serve Him through actions of kindness and selflessness.

The events I speak at are great opportunities to be fed spiritually and sometimes with actual food! We strive to show people not only the importance of making time for family and one another, be it at the dinner table or in family life situations, but to give thanks to God for giving us these gifts. So check out the calendar in the coming months and find out if I am near you, and I will hope to connect with you there. May you find the time to be nourished, because that’s what God wants for you. And don’t be afraid to retreat and surrender to God’s love and mercy.

Leave comments below and if you would like to find a time to create an event, go to the “Book Fr. Leo” to bring me out to your parish or community.


  • When was the last retreat you went on?
  • Where are your favorite places to reflect, pray or just ‘get away’?
  • Are there any events coming up that you would like to attend?

Please post your comments HERE, as these help our movement learn and grow. 


Let us pray:


Father, we take the time to praise you for your love and providence. We thank you for the many blessings we have, be it food to eat, family and friends to cherish, a home to live in, or a job to help provide for those we love. May we make more time for you in our daily lives, and we pray for those who are persecuted for their faith, who go hungry everyday or don’t have a shelter to call home. Have mercy on them and may we be true disciples, providing our help however possible to those in need. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


READ: Fr. Leo Interviewed on


Click to read the interview on

READ: Fr. Leo’s Eggplant Caponata Recipe featured on

Click to check out

8/23/14 – 8/26/14

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Safe Travels & Feast Day Foods

As Fr. Leo continues his retreats and travels, our team at GBM wanted to share a prayer for travelers as the summer vacations roll on and the school year approaches. With special intentions, we pray for those who are away from loved ones that they may return safely.

Dear God, we ask you for your blessings and protection on all those who are traveling, whether for business, for vacation, or for other personal reasons. We trust in your will, and hope that our loved ones may return to us safely and in good spirits. For those who have lost loved ones, we pray for their consolation and that they may find their hope and joy in you. Finally, may they be fed in body, mind and spirit on their journeys, so that they may be nourished and able to do good in this world. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr. Leo during his travels in the Southwest during a retreat. For more pictures, videos, updates, check out Fr. Leo on Facebook, Twitter and on!

Interestingly enough, there is a book on EWTN’s website called “Feast Day Cookbook” by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, published in 1951. Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the recipes they share for today’s feast include Pilaff and a Spiced Grape Jelly. Be sure to check out the link for more recipes and neat information on Feast Days and meals, as feasting is an important part of the Catholic faith, the Grace Before Meals movement and cookbook.

Click to read this classic Catholic cookbook, courtesy of EWTN.

[Excerpt from Feast Day Cookbook]

August 6: Feast of the Transfiguration

The origin of this Christian festival has been attributed to Saint Gregory the Illuminator who flourished in Lower Armenia during the fourth century. He is said to have substituted it for a pagan feast of Aphrodite called “Vartavarh” (the flaming of the rose) and the old name was retained, in that region at least, to designate the Transfiguration, because “Christ opened his glory like a rose on Mount Thabor.”

In Armenian villages the day is still celebrated with unusual ceremonies in the course of which peasants lead to the church a sheep with decorated horns, on each tip of which is placed a lighted candle. Flowers, fruit, and sheaves are also brought and laid before the altar.

Following this ceremony a fair usually takes place; there are races and games, and a crown of roses is the customary prize. During the feasting that follows is likely to appear.

3 cups cracked wheat
6 cups stock
4 cups minced cooked lamb
1/2 cup melted butter

Soak the cracked wheat (cracked barley may be substituted) overnight. Drain the wheat, mix with the meat, and salt to taste. Place in a large kettle, add about half the stock (water and bouillon cubes may be used, allowing one cube for each cup of water), and heat slowly. Cook for about an hour, stirring almost constantly and adding stock as necessary. Serve in hot, deep plates, pour melted butter over each serving, and dust with pepper and cinnamon to taste.

The Feast of the Transfiguration was slower to be observed in the Western Church and is not mentioned until the ninth century. It was made universal by Rome on the day when Hunyady gained his victory over the Turks on August 6, 1456. It is now the titular feast of the Church of St. John Lateran, and on this day the Pope presses a bunch of ripe grapes into the chalice at Mass or uses new wine.

Also in Rome raisins are blessed on the Feast of the Transfiguration, and the Greek and Russian Churches too conduct a special ceremony for blessing grapes and other fruits. Since the grape is given so much prominence on this feast, we may give the following recipe:

Spiced Grape Jelly
8 lbs. Concord grapes
2 sticks cinnamon
2 cups vinegar
1 tablespoon whole cloves

Wash, remove from stems, and drain the grapes. Put half of them in a preserving kettle, add the vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves and then the rest of the grapes. Cook gently for about fifteen minutes or until soft. Strain through a jelly bag without pressing so that the juice remains clear. Take 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice, boil to the proper consistency for jelly, pour into hot glasses and cover with 1/2 inch of paraffin.

Do you have any recipes or adventures to share?
Are you or a loved one traveling, and if so, where to and for how long?
Any recipes that you like to make on feast days?

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God Is (Isaiah 12:2)

God is. Simply put, to say the least. But what a big statement! What, or more accurately, who is God to you? There is no answer that can encompass the entirety of God, for He is entirety and then so much more. But the Prophet Isaiah has a pretty good answer for us to consider:


Watch the promo video for Steubenville Youth Conferences 2014

I will be at 3 Steubenville Youth Conferences this year, and as you may have guessed, the theme is “God Is”. This weekend, I will once again be going to Steubenville On The Bayou, at the Houma Civic Center in Houma, LA, then I will be at Steubenville Atlantic (in Canada) (7/4- 7/6/14) and Steubenville Main Campus 5 (7/18-7/20/14). And what wonderful opportunities to come together with so many young people ready to be set on fire with love for God in their faith.

I will be giving more than giving a talk, but will also be leading the entertainment like last year, and am looking forward to the fun waiting to be had. More than just talks and musical performances, there is a true unity felt among the crowds of young people and adults, all brought together in the love of God.

The theme of “God Is” should provoke you to think about what that means to you. Is it a statement, or is it the start of a sentence? Even the most devout would benefit from seeking to find out more about who God is in their lives. I highly encourage you, your children or any young person you think would benefit from the experience to try and make it out to one of these conferences. There is a full listing HERE.

The third episode for Epic Food Fight: Fr. Leo makes Blessed ‘Milk & Honey’ Salad

Also, you can check out my Epic Food Fight video, preparing Blessed ‘Milk & Honey’ Salad by clicking the picture above. Check it out and let us know what you think! Finally, I want to encourage anyone interested in joining me for pilgrimages to Napa Valley (11/9-11/14/14) and the Holy Land (2/1-2/12/15) to register soon. The deadline for Napa Valley is July 7, so call Corporate Travel Service at 313-565-8888 x 122 to register today.

I’ll hope you are excited for the journey ahead to seek who, what, or that God is. God is.


  • What does the Steubenville Conferences’ theme “God Is” mean to you?
  • Have you been to a Steubenville Conference before? How was your experience?
  • Have you ever engaged in a conversation about who God is with a non-believer? What happened?

Please post your comments below as these help our movement learn and grow. 


Let us pray:


God, may we come to seek you are in all things, for you are all that we desire and you provide all that we need. May we trust that you are here with us always, and that you know what is best. May we surrender our hearts, our fears and our ambitions to you, so that you may do with us what is most pleasing to you. We love you always, and ask your blessing on all people, whether young or old, rich or poor, big or small. May many come to love you more through these conferences and in the work we do for your glory. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.  

This Week’s Recipe:




6/27/14 – 6/29/14




Houma, LA

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Posted June 18th, 2014 | Dinner Discussion, Epic Food Fight, Video


WATCH: Fr. Leo makes New York Strip Steak with Advieh Seasoning

As you may know, my latest book Epic Food Fight: A Bite-sized History of Salvation came out earlier this year, and unlike my other books, Grace Before Meals: Recipes & Inspirations for Family Meals & Family Life and Spicing Up Married Life, this book does not contain recipes, but rather a “Theology of Food”.

What you may not have known is that Franciscan Media, the publisher of the book, produced some videos for Epic Food Fight as well. So I wanted to share with you the first 2 episodes.

The first video is an explanation of the book, and may provide some insight on why this is important and such a big part of what we do at Grace Before Meals. Click the picture and watch it below.  


Click to learn more about Epic Food Fight from Fr. Leo himself.

 The second video, I do actually cook up a meal that quite a tasty dish: New York Strip Steak with advieh seasoning. I gave steaks a whole new flavor profile by using advieh seasoning, which combines cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cloves and ginger – ingredients often associated to sweet baking, but also uniquely used in savory style cuisine. You can watch and learn just how easy it is to cook up some good steak by clicking the picture below.  

Easy to make, and even easier to eat, click the picture to watch how to make some delicious NY Strip Steak with advieh seasoning.

Just as with my work with Grace Before Meals, TV and radio, this book makes clear how faith and food go hand in hand in bringing us closer to God and one another, as it is all truly a gift. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you check out Epic Food Fight this summer and be spiritually fed.

Of course, if you don’t want to take my word for it, you can check out some testimonials from fans, as well as from some celebrated Catholic personalities, such as Fr. Jonathan Morris, who says:

“Now this is great news-God cares about good food! In this refreshingly simple and joy-filled book, my friend Father Leo takes us from the dining room table to the Eucharistic altar and shows us how God wills to nourish us, body and soul.”


-FATHER JONATHAN MORRIS, program director of

The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM Radio 

Next week, I will share the third episode where I make “Blessed Milk & Honey” Salad. At Grace Before Meals, we hope to help bring you closer to God and your family in the work we do, and this book is a big part of it. So share your stories of faith and food, and if you’ve read the book, let me know your thoughts on it by leaving comments HERE.


  • Have you read Epic Food Fight?
  • What are your thoughts on a “theology of food”? Does it make sense to you?
  • What do you consider the greatest culinary connection to the Catholic faith?

Please post your comments HERE, as these help our movement learn and grow. 


Let us pray:


Father, we praise you for your love for us and for the food you give us to eat. May we be fed with your Body and Blood, serving you by helping those in need. And may we always be strengthened and willing to fight the temptation to partake in the ‘forbidden fruit’, eating and drinking the spiritual food only you can provide. We love you and thank you for your mercy, and ask for your blessing in all that we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.



WATCH: Fr. Leo on ‘The World Over with Raymond Arroyo’ on EWTN

Click to watch Fr. Leo on The World OVer with Raymond Arroyo.

Fr. Leo was a special guest on ‘The World Over with Raymond Arroyo’ on June 5, 2014. Fr. Leo speaks on Grace Before Meals and The GIFT Vessel in greater details.

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Posted June 4th, 2014 | Epic Food Fight, Faithful Foodie, Video

Triumphant Travels

Now that I’m back from Italy following a great Couples Retreat that I co-led with Teresa Tomeo and her husband Dcn. Dom Pastore, plus a reunion with my priest friends from seminary, it is nice to look back at my travels. Many people think I am very lucky to travel as much as I do, but I sometimes, I am reluctant to agree. Let’s just say that driving non-stop, flight delays, and little sleep don’t always make me a happy traveler.

Yet as easy as it is for me to get frustrated when I’m stuck in a terminal for hours on end or when I travel between 5 events in 4 states in 7 days, I must say that I am thankful for the great opportunity to be spreading the Good News and sharing our family movement with people around the country and world. Knowing it is a unique part of my priesthood, even the most grueling of travel schedules offers the hope of knowing that I have the chance to meet many wonderful people and to feed them with food for the body & the soul. Plus, I hope that my toughest times in airports can serve as penance and reduce my time in Purgatory (I kid).

Knowing that travel is necessary for me and many others to carry out God’s will, I want to invite you and your friends to join me for some of my adventures. I know it is not always easy or even affordable, but I would very much encourage you to look into these trips and other ones that are coming soon, as they not only serve as great adventures that will provide memories for a lifetime, but faith-filled journeys that I think will impact you even after this lifetime.

Napa Valley Pilgrimage 2014

Click to see the video on Youtube and share with friends!


I highly recommend this trip to Napa Valley, CA this November 9-14, 2014, as it is right here in the USA, practically your backyard. As you can see in the trailer above, there are so many beautiful vineyards, wineries, locales and even castles to see, but what is more striking is the history and the amazing ties between the Catholic faith and wine. You can download the PDF form and fill it out by going to Cheers!

The Holy Land Pilgrimage 2015
Click the picture to download the registration form, and I’ll hope to see you in the Holy Land in 2015!


I will be returning to the Holy Land in conjunction with Select International and Chefs for Peace again this February 1-12, 2015, following a tremendous trip this past January.

Take a look at some of the wonderful tastes and travels in store for you in the Holy Land.

As mentioned, there are many pains when it comes to traveling, but it is when you take a look around and see the glory of God’s creation that you can at least appreciate how amazing He really is, and just how much He loves us to provide us with such beauty. I pray that you can join me and others on these wonderful faith-filled and inspiring journeys, for that is what they are meant to do: inspire your faith. What better way than to enjoy God’s splendor with others in faith, food, and across the world.


Let us Pray for those going on vacation:


Father in Heaven, guide all travelers in their destinations. Give them patience, joy, perseverance and love as they travel in these coming summer months.  Provide them safety and peace, now and until they reach their final destination in heaven, through your mercy and goodness, in the name of Jesus The Lord. 




Spring Lake, NJ

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